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David Sosa, Chair 2210 Speedway, WAG 316, Stop C3500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4857

Stephen A White

Professor PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Professor; Director, Joint Graduate Program in Ancient Philosophy
Stephen A White

Contact

  • Phone: 512 475-7457
  • Office: WAG 117
  • Office Hours: On leave Spring: by appointment only
  • Campus Mail Code: C3400

Biography

My interests range widely across ancient philosophy from Aristotle to Zeno (the Stoic from Cyprus more than the Eleatic), and I have side interests in Greek tragedy (especially Aeschylus) and Hellenistic literature. My teaching is concentrated in ancient philosophy and Greek language (both at all levels), and in Greek culture generally. From time to time I also teach Latin authors and Roman topics. My published work focuses on Aristotle and his associates, and mainly in the area of ethics. I’ve also published articles in various other areas, including early astronomy and Hellenistic poetry. Recent publications include “Milesian Measures: Time, Space, and Matter” in the Oxford Handbook to Presocratic Philosophy (2008); “Posidonius and Stoic Physics” in Greek and Roman Philosophy 100 BC to 200 AD (2007); and two volumes on the Hellenistic Lyceum (co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh): Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes (2004) and Aristo of Ceos (2006). My main current projects are a translation of Diogenes Laertius' Lives and Doctrines of the Ancient Philosophers (for CUP) and a book on Aristotle's theories of pleasure.

Interests

Ancient ethics, Aristotle, Plato, Stoicism

PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

43045-43055 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 420
(also listed as C C 348 )
show description

This course examines some central issues and ideas in ancient Greek philosophy. To set the stage, we’ll first look at some pioneering figures known as Presocratics. For the rest of the semester, we’ll focus on three thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and we’ll study their positions and arguments on some enduring questions about human conduct, the natural world, and our knowledge of each. The emphasis throughout is on analyzing what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

 

List of Proposed Texts /Readings:

Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, S.M. Cohen, P. Curd, & C. D. C. Reeve


      (4th edition: 2011; Hackett pb: 978-1-60384-462-8)

Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction, C. Shields

      (2011; Routledge pb: 978-0-415-89660-3)

 

Proposed Grading Policy:

Weekly responses 15%, 2 midterms 25% each, final 30%, participation 5%

PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

43085-43095 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 201
(also listed as C C 348 )
show description

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. It focuses on three major thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We’ll examine their views and arguments on some central questions about the natural world, how we should live, and how anyone knows anything at all. We’ll begin with a swift survey of some influential earlier figures known as Presocratics and Sophists, and we’ll end with a brief look at some enduring ideas of Epicurus. The emphasis throughout will be on analyzing what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

Grades: weekly responses 20%, 2 midterms 20% each, final 30%, participation 10%

Texts:

Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, S.M. Cohen, P. Curd, & C. D. C. Reeve    (4th edition 2011; Hackett pb: 978-1-60384-462-8; or e-book)

Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction, C. Shields     (2011; Routledge pb: 978-0-415-89660-3)

PHL 381 • Plato's Symposium

43195 • Spring 2011
Meets W 200pm-500pm WAG 10
(also listed as GK 390 )
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Prerequisites:

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

 

The Symposium is one of Plato's most seductive dialogues - and one of his most perplexing. What to make of its extraordinary polyphony and generic diversity? Its elaborate dramatic occasion/s and multiple layers and reversals? Its widely divergent conceptions of eros? Its pervasive blending of sacred and profane, bawdy and transcendent? Or its relation to other Platonic dialogues, or to other writings, older, contemporary, and later?

The seminar will explore the dialogue from multiple angles: literary and historical as well as philosophical. Topics on the agenda are likely to include: dialogue form/s, prosopography, rival disciplines and genres, Socratic method, Platonic theories of desire, philosophical accounts of eros, the symposium as a site for cultural criticism, Plato's use of myth and rhetoric, and ancient reception, including contemporary reactions.

Although much of our material will be accessible to all, readings and discussion will make frequent use of Greek, and some material will require analysis of Plato's own language. Some facility with Greek is therefore strongly recommended; anyone unfamiliar with Greek should see me before registering.

Format will be mainly presentations and discussion. Course grades will be based on active participation, including seminar presentations (number and scope depending on our size), some shorter written work, and a seminar paper (at least some for presentation to the seminar). Within those general parameters, requirements will vary according to registration: some oral and written translation for GRK 390, critical responses for PHL 381.

Everyone should have a personal copy of the dialogue and familiarize themselves with it before we begin. Burnet's OCT vol. 2 is still the standard Greek text; and good translations by Allen, Gill, Griffith, Howatson, Nehamas and Woodruff, and Rowe are widely available. Helpful background reading includes other dialogues, especially Lysis, Phaedrus, and Republic 4.

This course satisfies the History Requirement.

PHL 381 • Aristotle's Ethics

43485 • Fall 2009
Meets TH 330pm-630pm WAG 10
(also listed as GK 390 )
show description

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

 

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

 

Course Description

Hellenistic philosophy, that is of the period between the death of Aristotle and (traditionally at least) 31 BC, was for centuries unjustly neglected. Over the past thirty years or so much has been done to remedy that neglect, and the distinctive schools of the period (Epicurean, Stoic, Academic, Pyrrhonian) are now recognized as continuing much of enduring and intrinsic interest. Study of the period is hampered by the fact that, with rare exceptions, their works are known only through later citations and attestations, which complicates the process of interpretation. But it is still a project well worthwhile. This course will examine key ideas and arguments from all of these schools, and the contributions they made (and debates they engaged in) concerning epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, logic and mind (among other things).

 

Grading

1 term paper (90%)

participation and/or presentation (10%)

 

Texts

A.A. Long, D.N. Sedley The Hellenistic Philosophers Vol. 1 (1987)

   Cambridge University Press ISBN: 0521275563

 

This course satisfied the History requirement.

PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

32065 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 1100-1230pm WAG 302
show description

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. We’ll focus on three major thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and we’ll examine their views and arguments on some central questions about human conduct, the natural world, and our knowledge of both. We’ll begin with a brief look at some influential earlier figures known as Presocratics and Sophists, and we’ll end with a brief look at some enduring ideas of Epicurus. The emphasis throughout will be on analyzing both what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is not to memorize information but to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

Texts:  All required readings are from these three texts, available at the COOP and elsewhere:
Baird & Kaufmann, Ancient Philosophy (5th edition; earlier editions ok, but pages differ)
Plato, Protagoras (Taylor translation: Oxford 1996)
Shields, Classical Philosophy (Routledge 2003)

Grades: weekly responses 15%, midterms 25% each, final 30%, participation 5%.

PHL 329K • History Of Ancient Philosophy

42405-42415 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 1100-1230pm WAG 302
show description

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. We’ll focus on three major thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and we’ll examine their views and arguments on some central questions about human conduct, the natural world, and our knowledge of both. We’ll begin with a brief look at some influential earlier figures known as Presocratics and Sophists, and we’ll end with a brief look at some enduring ideas of Epicurus. The emphasis throughout will be on analyzing both what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is not to memorize information but to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

Publications

White, S.A. (2010) Stoic Selection: Objects, Actions, and Agents. In A. Nightingale and D. Sedley (Eds.), Ancient Models of Mind: Studies in Human and Divine Rationality, pp. 110-29. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

White, S.A. (2010) Philosophy After Aristotle. In J. Clauss and M. Cuypers (Eds.), Blackwell Companion to Hellenistic Literature, pp. 366-83. Oxford: Blackwell.

White, S.A. (2008) Milesian Measures: Time, Space, and Matter. In P. Curd and D. Graham (Eds.), Oxford Handbook to Presocratic Philosophy, pp. 89-133. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

White, S.A. (2007) Theophrastus and Callisthenes. In D. Mirhady (Ed.), Influences on Peripatetic Rhetoric: Studies in Honor of William W. Fortenbaugh, pp. 211-230. Leiden: Brill.

White, S.A. (2007) Posidonius and Stoic Physics. In R. Sorabji and R.W. Sharples (Eds.), Greek and Roman Philosophy 100 BC to 200 AD (Bulletin of the Institute for Classical Studies, Suppl. vol. 94), pp. 35-76.

White, S.A. (2006) Aristo of Ceos: Text, Translation, and Discussion. Co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2004) Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes: Text, Translation, and Discussion. Co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2004) Hieronymus of Rhodes: The Sources, Text and Translation. In W. Fortenbaugh & S. White (Eds.), Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes, pp. 79-276. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2004) Lyco and Hieronymus on the Good Life. In W. Fortenbaugh & S. White (Eds.), Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes, pp. 389-409. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2002) Happiness in the Hellenistic Lyceum. In L. Jost & R. Shiner (Eds.), Eudaimonia and Well-Being (Apeiron, Suppl. vol. 35), pp. 69-93.

White, S.A. (2002) Thales and the Stars. In V. Caston & D. Graham (Eds.), Presocratic Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Alexander Mourelatos, pp. 3-18. Aldershot: Ashgate.

White, S.A. (2002) Eudemus the Naturalist. In I. Bodnar & W. Fortenbaugh (Eds.), Eudemus of Rhodes, pp. 207-241. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2002) Opuscula and Opera in the Catalogue of Theophrastus' Works. In W. Fortenbaugh & G. Wohrle (Eds.), On the Opuscula of Theophrastus, pp. 9-38. Stuttgart: Steiner.

White, S.A. (2001) Io's World: Intimations of Theodicy in Prometheus Bound. Journal of Hellenic Studies 121: 107-140.

White, S.A. (2001) Principes Sapientiae: Dicaearchus' Biography of Philosophy. In W. Fortenbaugh & E. Schutrumpf (Eds.), Dicaearchus of Messene, pp. 195-236. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2000) Socrates at Colonus: A Hero for the Academy. In N. Smith & P. Woodruff (Eds.), Socrates on Reason and Religion, pp. 151-175. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

White, S.A. (1999) Callimachus Battiades (Epigr. 35). Classical Philology 94: 151-175.

White, S.A. (1995) Thrasymachus the Diplomat. Classical Philology 90: 307-327.

White, S.A. (1994) Callimachus on Plato and Cleombrotus. Transactions of the American Philological Association 124: 135-161.

White, S.A. (1992) Sovereign Virtue: Aristotle on the Relation Between Prosperity and Happiness. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

White, S.A. (1992) Natural Virtue and Perfect Virtue in Aristotle. Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 8: 135-68.

White, S.A. (1992) Aristotle's Favorite Tragedies. In A.O. Rorty (Ed.), Essays on Aristotle's 'Poetics', pp. 221-240. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

White, S.A. (1990) Is Aristotelian Happiness a Good Life or the Best Life? Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 8: 97-137.

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